Azealia Banks‘ noticeably lighter complexion led to some criticism online regarding skin lightening. The outspoken rapper posted a Facebook live video and attempted to explain the stigma surrounding skin lightening.
“I see that you guys really want to talk to me about this whole skin lightening thing, why I did, what does it mean–blah blah blah,” Banks said.
“I don’t think it’s important to discuss the cultural significance of skin bleaching anymore because i think that just as african american people or just as black people in this world, you assimilate. And there are things that, I mean…you accept not out of necessity but things that kind of become norm because it’s just happening all the time. I think that goes for black people or any minority.”
She also compared criticism for skin bleaching to criticism for speaking “clear English” or achieving academically.
“Although I’m making a joke, all jokes come from a serious place. I think a big part of being a black person in America is…it’s accepted–people look at skin bleaching as something different but I see it as…another assimilation thing. It’s just a continuation of the falsification of self that comes with being a black person in America. That can extend to speaking clear English or doing really well in academia. Whatever it is that black people make fun of each other for. It’s all a part of that respectable Negro stuff.”
Banks reiterated that skin lightening can also be peels.
“My personal opinion on skin lightening, I consider anything that has to do with removing layers of skin or pigment–I consider it all bleaching…well, I don’t say ‘bleaching,’ I say ‘lightening.’ But some people will be like ‘I just got a chemical peel, that’s not lightening my skin.’ But it did lighten your skin; it took off all the chocolate chips and all the shit. Might’ve had some blackheads caked down in there–sometimes it gets really caked up.”
And she again framed the conversation as a question of beauty–not one of race.
“I think it’s a deeper conversation about a woman’s choice,” Banks continued. “Being a black woman, I sometimes forget to be a woman. I get really bent up on blackness and all of these unwritten rules that come with being black. You forget to give yourself a break and recognizing that blackness in today’s age is so paradoxical and it’s so many different things.”
“What’s the difference between getting a nose job and changing your skin color?” Banks added later. “What’s the difference between wearing a hair weave and changing your skin color?”
Banks goes on to discuss skin lightening products and addressing that people use products to remove blemishes, while also explaining which products she believes are better than others. Check out her thoughts in the video above.